Lord Netterville, indicted for the murder of Michael Walsh, is acquitted by his Parlimentary Peers
- December 31, 1969
Nicholas Netterville, 5th Viscount Netterville (1708–1750) was an Irish peer, who is mainly remembered for having been tried and acquitted by his peers on a charge of murder.
In 1742 he was charged with the murder of Michael Walsh of County Meath. Because both the Crown’s crucial witnesses died before the trial came on, remarkably little seems to be known about the details of the alleged murder: Walsh is said to have been Lord Netterville’s valet, but little else is known about him. Lord Netterville claimed the privilege of being tried by his peers. The case aroused great interest among the public, no doubt partly because it was only five years since another Irish peer, Lord Santry, had been tried and convicted of murder, but later pardoned.
On 3 February 1743 the Irish House of Lords assembled to try Lord Netterville, who pleaded not guilty. The trial lasted for fifteen hours but was something of an anti-climax since the Crown explained that the two principal witnesses for the prosecution had died, and the law of evidence did not permit their depositions to be read in Court. In the circumstances, his peers had no hesitation in finding him “Not Guilty”